By David Shrimpton
A Greek restaurant in Surrey has become the first business to get formal protection from telecoms watchdog Oftel against unwanted telesales calls.
Vasos Herodotou, proprietor of the Greek Taverna in Carshalton, said he had been the victim of countless unsolicited calls from Liverpool-based James E James Ltd, which was trying to sell him advertising space in its publications. "Their record was five times in 10 minutes," he claimed.
"They have been hounding me and pestering me for about three years. After a few occasions, I politely asked them to take me off their mailinglist. They said they couldn't do that."
Herodotou wrote to the firm's managing director but received no reply. "They kept pestering me, so I wrote to Oftel."
The telecoms watchdog intervened on behalf of the restaurant but, despite several warnings, James E James would give no assurance that the Greek Taverna would not receive further calls.
Oftel last week told James E James that it intends to issue a final enforcement order against the firm. This would ban the company from selling advertisements over the phone. It has until 20 July to respond. If the final order is issued, this would also open the way for Herodotou to sue for damages.
He said: "If you try and run a small business, the phone is your lifeline. You're waiting for bookings, but end up wasting half your time with salesmen."
James E James refused to comment.